How Arthur J Williams Jr, A Former Master Counterfeiter Turned Famous Artist And Famed NFL Coaching Legend Gregg Williams Are, Through Unorthodox Techniques, Changing The Way Motivation And Mental Healing Are Done Both On And Off The Field.

Arthur J Williams Jr. (or Artie for short) is not your everyday ordinary run of the mill reformed convict and Gregg Williams (no relation) is not your everyday ordinary football coach. Artie is a former master counterfeiter turned famous artist, a professional motivational speaker, a philanthropist, a great father and husband to his special loving wife Sarah, a giver, an inventor and a distinguished author, visionary thinker and faithful believer who skipped two grades before the age of 11. Coach Williams is a famed legendary NFL Super Bowl winning champion who is famous for turning lives and teams around through hard work, long hours and changing entire team’s cultures with structure, discipline and accountability. By putting their creative minds together, it appears that they are changing the team and the players in more ways than one.

 

Let’s start at the beginning of this incredible journey that almost never took place. Artie was invited by successful businessman Rob Williams (also no relation) to a celebrity golf outing for charity last month in St. Louis. Last minute, he had something urgent come up, where he was unable to attend the event. He was however, invited to Rob’s personal home afterwards. This is where it all began. Artie met the great Gregg Williams, current Defensive Coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, who is considered by many to be one of the brightest minds in the NFL today. The two connected immediately.

Coach Williams saw something in Artie. Maybe it was Artie’s ability to scan a room in a matter of seconds, probably a skill he acquired while leading his own gang at an early age in the project ridden Italian neighborhood of Bridgeport, South side Chicago. Maybe it was his rough childhood that also currently plagues some of coach’s players. Maybe it was his ability to evade the Secret Service and the Federal Reserve for 15 years when most counterfeiters get tried and convicted even before bringing their product to market. Maybe it was the fact that Artie, using over the counter tools and materials, produced what the Federal Reserve deemed the almost impossible to counterfeit bill in history, the big face 1996-hundred-dollar bill. And Artie produced millions of dollars’ worth of them over his illustrious 15-year career. Maybe it was the fact that Artie uses his security marker and special paint features in his actual paintings from his old counterfeiting days. Maybe it was the fact that Artie has a genius level IQ. Maybe it was the fact that Artie has been donating hundreds of thousands of dollars through his art to children’s charities across America. Maybe it was his intellectualism, life experience and fascinating conversation. Maybe it was the fact that Artie was looking at 105 months in prison and he would not rat on his counterfeiting team and associates. Maybe it was all of the above, but I just think the Coach really liked Artie and wanted to help him in his journey of redemption along with some of his players. And along this journey something very special happened.

Coach read Artie’s book titled The Art of Making Money, which was deemed one of the best books of 2009 by The Washington Post. Then about a week later coach traveled all the way to Chicago for Artie’s grand opening of his Da Vinci Art Gallery in his hometown of Bridgeport to ask him to speak to his team on premise in Cleveland, Ohio direct. At the grand opening coach met Artie’s supporters and friends who range from Politicians, Famous Actors and Billionaires to Professional Athletes, Philanthropists and Famous Journalists. Not too bad for a three-time convicted felon, especially when 87% of felons return to jail within three short years of being released. Well not Artie, no way, he is living his life by the book now and is helping people in a major way. “God is speaking through me right now. He is with me,” he states. He just gave brilliant speeches in front of Columbia University and then in front of mega Hollywood royalty a few weeks later including elites like Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Tom Arnold and The Governator himself in Los Angeles at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s home for his charity. At that one event alone Artie’s art raised over $150,000 for six pieces ($75,000 for three pieces with Artie being auctioned off), with no profits whatsoever, all of it went to children’s charities. In the same month through other guest celebrity events he raised almost another $50,000 for children’s charities including: Opal House, After School All-Stars and Rapper/Actor/Producer Common’s The Common Ground Foundation.

 

Da Vinci, by the way, has a very special meaning to Artie. Not only did he name his gallery that, but the old school Italian mobster who taught him how to counterfeit the old $100 bill Artie coincidentally called Da Vinci. He also learned how to paint in prison reading Leonardo Da Vinci manuscripts on painting techniques and he even named his youngest son Da Vinci (a super gifted kid, 22 months old, who you would swear is already scanning rooms like his adult father, guess brilliance just naturally runs in their family). Artie in my opinion is a modern Da Vinci to say the least, but many are actually dubbing him the Andy Warhol of our generation. Illustrator Andy Warhol was one of the most prolific and popular artists of his time, using both pop iconic and highly commercial sensibilities. Being one of the most prolific and popular artists of our time, Artie, through the use of innovative unique advanced techniques of print, paint and digital mediums, creates unconventional visual masterpieces for his viewers to behold. Pop icons like Frank Sinatra, Nikola Tesla, Dali, Judy Garland, Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Elvis Presley, Prince and Marilyn Monroe are to name a few of this images that he creates and places atop his super iconic Benjamin Franklin. His pieces are so beautiful and mysterious that they stretch the viewer’s imagination to a place that can and will change the very way that they think about reality itself.

Before we even arrived in Cleveland Artie explained to me that he lives his life by the Three D’s: the Desire to do the right thing and to have positive dreams that will help other’s journeys, the Determination to follow through with solid ethic to work towards that dream and finally the Discipline and a strong community to help you accomplish that dream. “Desire a strong work ethic, discipline that work, be determined to make that work the very best. 87% of people go back to jail after 3 years, what made me different was the fact that I had a dream and visualized something that would keep me free and then it was the work ethic I had acquired along the way to keep the driving force a positive one. As long as I did something everyday towards that goal, working towards that vision and surrounded myself with community I was good and my Creator is at the head of it all. He’s the head of my community. Between those three things anything can be possible. The Three D’s lead to deeper realms of one another as I dive deeper into each project or life goal.” Artie states. He told UFC legend and former champion Rashad Evans “It’s all about making a difference in our community, country, and world!! I believe we really change the world around us by showing an unconditional love for humanity, thanks for joining this journey with me.” He commented that beautiful message on Rashad’s Instagram post tagging Artie personally after an incredible custom copper interference piece was commissioned for Rashad and was presented to him at Artie’s grand opening of his gallery in Chitown last month. Rashad was in town that same weekend fighting in UFC 225 at the United Center.

Coincidentally upon arriving at the Brown’s practice facility in Cleveland during a preseason mini camp we saw a large wall inside with huge black upper case letters that said DISCIPLINE, DESIRE, DETERMINATION, DEDICATION LEADS TO VICTORY. It was the first of many very evident signs that God placed Artie in the hands of the Cleveland Browns for a very special and important life changing reason.

At the NFL training and practice facility Artie says, “He was there for a life lesson, not only for himself, but for the coach and players as well.” Artie is a faithful, positive man, but as a convicted felon, even he was surprised when he saw the unbelievable warm welcome the Cleveland Browns showed him. Artie says, “The hardest thing is to be trusted and although I was greeted with the warmest of welcomes, I was escorted around by security the first day at the Brown’s facility.” This is the NFL we are talking about. Confidentiality and extreme secrecy are essential for victory. By the second day Artie had pretty much coach’s credentials to wander in and out of meetings, sitting and chatting with players, who we will not mention, trying to help them get their heads right before playing at such a competitive level. He even got to sit in Coach’s chair and pray with a player who had something very much in common with Artie. They were both plagued with mothers who were diagnosed bi-polar and schizophrenic. Artie has been through a lot in his life and he knew he could use his wisdom and life experience to help others, just as Coach was doing for him. Coach Gregg Williams said, “Those that are someone have no problem helping others rise up to be someone.” He is all about stepping up to the plate and doing what is right, not what is easy. As a true mentor and leader he backs his players, even when the going gets very tough off the field. He says passionately, “As we help the people we can help, there will be events that cause you to back away. NOT ME! This is when they will need you the MOST. I share this with you because people have zero understanding of what the young men I mentor truly overcome. During difficult times is when a true mentor is needed the most. Backing away in difficult times shows that you’re NOT a mentor, but a manipulator!” Coach knows that no one is perfect either, that’s why he also said, “Experience is valuable, it’s priceless, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, don’t make the same mistakes twice, but we all live and learn and I’ve found that some of the best value I’ve learned in my life is after I made a mistake.”

When Artie finally spoke in front of the team, one of the first things he said in front of a bunch of millionaires at the top of their game was, “You guys probably think you make a lot of money, well I’ve “made” more than all of you combined.” Getting a good laugh at an old counterfeiter’s joke, he slowly moves into what it takes to be the best and stay there. Believing in yourself and your team is crucial for victory. Artie told them that he has laser focus and a relentless pursuit to be the best. He said, “We are all here for different reasons. You guys are supernatural beings, we all are and you have an opportunity to do something historical. I already made the history books, now it’s your turn to do so.” Artie also touched on the importance of loyalty, something Coach holds in high regard, when he said, “If you’re loyal and have each-other’s backs, there’s nothing that you can’t do!” He wrapped up his speech by giving an amazing Albert Einstein over George Washington art piece to Coach as a gift, a very nice and valuable gift, as a thank you for Coach’s support and friendship. Coach couldn’t accept it, so Artie insisted. The second piece of art given is one of Artie’s signature vertical hundred-dollar bills that Artie gave to Coach’s charity in St. Louis, Gregg Williams Foundation for KIDS. The look on the faces of those players after they left that speech was that of a Roman Army about to march into battle. As a journalist, I have been around a lot of professional athletes and celebrities, but I have never sensed a buzz like that before. It was euphoric, it was divine and it appears it is exactly what the team needed to hear.

Here is a four minute motivational and enlightening excerpt from the speech:

For the entire full 17 minute speech given to the Cleveland Browns please email me direct at joshl@sflchronicle.com

Whether it was coach’s objective or something Artie said, or maybe a mix of both, but it appears from the looks of it, that the Cleveland Brown’s players have been mentally enlightened to the point of potentially a playoff appearance. Something Brown’s fans have been waiting a long time to see! May God bless them all on their journey of redemption, both Artie and the Browns!

Checkout www.arthurjwilliamsjr.com to see his latest art and apparel line, read about his amazing donations using art as a conduit of generosity to help others, or to contact him about working with a charity that you are passionate about. You can also find Artie and his new art gallery in the art district of Chicago on Instagram @arthurjwilliamsjr & @da.vinci.gallery.chicago and on Facebook at Arthur J Williams Jr.

To follow the team and read more about the Cleveland Browns please visit: https://www.clevelandbrowns.com/

God Bless Artie, God Bless the World and God Bless the NFL,

Josh Leidolf

Journalist
joshl@sflchronicle.com
South Florida Chronicle
www.sflchronicle.com
812-457-1118

Co-written by Domenica Rossi